Why You Are Addicted to Playing Online Games

Why You Are Addicted to Playing Online Games

With more than 7.4 billion mobile game downloads, online gaming is a booming industry in India. Many of us have grown up playing video games and have followed their technological evolution through the years. These games are a source of entertainment and relaxation, providing several opportunities for social interaction. While gaming can help in improving a gamer’s cognitive skills, communication, emotional resilience, hand-eye coordination, a channel to release emotions, and certainly a means to earn money (legitimately through tournaments), there is a flip side.

Many concerns revolve around gaming – a shift of focus from a real-time social life towards the virtual social world; physical effects related to sleep loss, sedentary lifestyle; emotional effects of aggression, isolation, and a decrease in empathy. While these challenges may not impact all gamers, those addicted to this form of entertainment may be highly vulnerable to them. It is therefore essential to understand the factors that lead to the development of this addiction.

Players receive positive reinforcement for the quick on-the-spot decisions they make. From clicking or tapping a button to moving a character, from eliminating enemies or clutching a round to getting praised by teammates for strategic thinking, games provide a source of positive appraisal to their players. With their virtual environments, real-time players can communicate with each other, as well as join groups where friendships can be formed. This grants them a social identity, feelings of self-worth, sense of accomplishment. Many proclaim that they have a strong desire to make their parents and country proud by competing in global tournaments. They seek approval from others and want their efforts to be recognized.

Gamers also experience a sense of purpose because they are repeatedly presented with objectives to achieve or barriers to overcome in the game. Additionally, online multiplayer games provide players with numerous opportunities, scenarios, characters, and powers. There is also a fierce competition to be the strongest player or team on the server because of the rewards that await them at the top, along with global recognition. However, such games with no ending motivate gamers to spend long hours, potentially contributing to poor sleep habits, withdrawal from others and reality, unhealthy diets, and ultimately – addiction.

Finally, the most important factor causing gaming addiction is the heightened dopamine levels experienced while playing. This is alarming because it can lead to maladaptive behaviors, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and possibly addiction. Considering the continuous feeling of being rewarded for in-game decision-making and the endless possible outcomes in a game environment, it can become addictive. This method can eventually serve as a means for escaping into a fantasy world in which they are able to make their own decisions and understand the consequences of their actions.

With the rapid emergence of technological and virtual environments in many areas of our daily lives, online games will continue to grow exponentially, as will gaming communities. We must take steps to play games in moderation, inculcate healthy habits, and seek professional mental health assistance. This is crucial for professional gamers – who compete at a global level for a living. Mental health issues are also spiraling among this growing volume of diverse players. If you feel like gaming is taking over your daily life or that it’s difficult to cope with the tremendous pressure to win championships, reach out to the experienced psychologists here at Faculty Minds to be better able to navigate through these challenges.

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